If you dared to read this after the title of was Jesus born in a car park, congratulations. Its something I started working on a couple of years back. Up for debate, but I think it’s interesting.
It flies in the face of other views. Like Jesus being born in a quiet stable. Under the house. Back of the house. In a cave.
I will leave the digging around for evidence of what I am saying to you as the research is worth it to give a bigger picture. But here goes.
1) Bethlehem was the final stop over from Egypt to Jerusalem as effectively a kind of ancient truckers stop. This is where you’d park your camels. Bethlehem was really small, it’s main trade came from this stop over point.
2) notice in the text that there’s no detail about the inn. Maybe it was the only one, but it was well known throughout the country to where the Gospel story was going. A bit like Watford `Gap services in the uk… everyone has heard of it. The inn was just the house for the owner, you stayed out the back
3) the population of Bethlehem by conservative estimates would have swollen to 4 times or more it’s size. People weren’t rich, so they wouldnt have vast homes to hide all these people. Where would they sleep?
4) so surely they’d sleep in Joseph’s family home? Well Joseph was ‘promised’ and not ‘married’. Now I will admit I don’t know too much about sex before marriage in those days, and what would happen if you got your teenage betrothed knocked up a little early, to put it crudely. But I’m guessing the family being good and upstanding (look at their son as a fine young man God was impressed with) would not have welcomed the pregnant girlfriend with open arms. Hence being at the inn in the first place.
5) in the truckers stop, there would be low stone shelters you could crawl into with your animals outside, dotted around the carpark. These were classed as stables. Compete with manger.
6)people would have been sleeping wherever they could find room, not just in houses but on the streets. And a bit like the refugee camps we see sadly today, people gather for safety and sharing. Makes sense that the truckers carpark would be the ideal large space? And since they all practiced the festival of shelters they knew how to build tents.
Suddenly we now get the picture not of a quiet holy crib scene, but bustling tent city. No private affair. The women helping with the birth. Then word would get out as a new baby screams into the cold night air. Thousands of people (I estimate between 4-6k people based on relationships and family sizes of the day. And rough size of Bethlehem at the time) all suddenly aware a baby has been born.
Now, enter the shepherds who’ve been told by the angels about Jesus. Complete with flocks as they were not left on the hillside. More than their jobs worth, besides which sheep followed them everywhere.
They come charging through tent city, sheep knocking everything flying. Asking about the baby…
And then find Jesus….
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:17-18 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Luke%202:17-18&version=NIV
Oh yeah…..nuclear ground zero, right there. Herod might have even heard the whispers as word got out. So when magi come knocking no wonder he through wobbly!
Don’t know about you, bu I see this as a much more exciting scene of God entering our world and right at the heart of life. In this context, the event would be gossiped right across the region for years I imagine.
What do you think?